Teens Spend Average of 4.8 Hours on Social Media Per Day

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Just over half of U.S. teenagers (51%) report spending at least four hours per day using a variety of social media apps such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook and X (formerly Twitter), a Gallup survey of more than 1,500 adolescents finds. This use amounts to 4.8 hours per day for the average U.S. teen across seven social media platforms tested in the survey.

Across age groups, the average time spent on social media ranges from as low as 4.1 hours per day for 13-year-olds to as high as 5.8 hours per day for 17-year-olds. Girls spend nearly an hour more on social media than boys (5.3 vs. 4.4 hours, respectively).

These data are from the Familial and Adolescent Health Survey conducted by Gallup June 26-July 17, 2023, using the Gallup Panel. The survey collected data from 6,643 parents and 1,591 adolescents who were the children of those parents. The survey asked about parental and child wellbeing, parenting practices, youth mental health, youth activities, quality of parent-child relationships, and other topics. The data were collected amid growing concerns from academic scholars that social media use is habit-forming, leads to overconsumption and may contribute to mental health problems. A recent report published by Gallup and the Institute for Family Studies contributes to this discussion.

The results show that YouTube and TikTok are by far the most popular social media apps among teens. Teens report spending an average of 1.9 hours per day on YouTube and 1.5 hours per day on TikTok, with boys spending more time on YouTube and girls spending more time on TikTok. Instagram is also popular with teens, attracting 0.9 hours of use per day.

Further analysis of the findings shows that the personality traits and parenting experiences of adolescents are associated with their level of social media use.

Adolescents were asked measures of what psychologists call the “Big 5 personality traits.” One of the scales that is particularly relevant, conscientiousness, pertains to self-control and self-regulation. The least conscientious adolescents — those scoring in the bottom quartile on the four items in the survey — spend an average of 1.2 hours more on social media per day than those who are highly conscientious (in the top quartile of the scale). Of the remaining Big 5 personality traits, emotional stability, openness to experience, agreeableness and extroversion are all negatively correlated with social media use, but the associations are weaker compared with conscientiousness.

Likewise, on average, adolescents report 1.8 hours less time on social media apps if their parents strongly agree that they restrict screen time, compared with parents who strongly disagree.

Using the larger sample of parents with children aged 3 to 19, one in four parents (25%) strongly agree that they restrict screen time for their children, which does not vary between mothers and fathers. Parental education is weakly related to screen time restrictions, with graduate degree holders slightly more likely than parents with less education to strongly agree that they restrict screen time.

The political ideology of the parent is more closely related to restrictions. Forty-one percent of very conservative parents strongly agree that they restrict screen time, compared with 26% of conservative parents and 23% among moderate, liberal or very liberal parents. Very liberal parents are more than twice as likely as conservative or very conservative parents to strongly disagree that they restrict screen time.

Amid declining teen mental health, many scholars such as social psychologist Jonathan Haidt have carefully investigated the role of social media, given the explosion in time spent using such applications. Studies have pointed out how technology companies manipulate users into spending more time on the apps through their designs. There is hard evidence to support this view. In a 2022 article published in the journal American Economic Review, economists reported the results of an experiment with young adults designed to affect their social media use; they conclude that 31% of time spent on social media stems from what the researchers describe as “self-control problems.”

Consistent with the literature on “digital addiction,” these data show that teens who spend more time on social media rate themselves as being less conscientious more generally and live with parents who are less likely to restrict screen time. The second, upcoming part of this analysis reveals that these characteristics also predict poor mental health — and seem to explain at least some of the observed relationship between social media use and mental health problems.

Readers can find a more comprehensive analysis from the report, How Parenting and Self-control Mediate the Link Between Social Media Use and Youth Mental Health, published with the Institute for Family Studies.

To stay up to date with the latest Gallup News insights and updates, follow us on X.

For this survey, Gallup collected responses from 6,643 parents living with children aged 3 to 19. For parents with children between the ages of 13 and 19, Gallup asked if they could also survey the child with the next birthday that fell within that age range. In all, 1,591 adolescents completed surveys. The survey lasted about 15 minutes for parents and 15 minutes for children. The questionnaire was reviewed and approved by Gallup’s Institutional Review Board. Survey weights were calculated by a Gallup statistician to equal the inverse probability of selection, given the parents’ age group, race and ethnic group, sex, level of educational attainment, and geographic region.
The survey was fielded June 26 to July 17, 2023, using the Gallup Panel, a probability-based panel whose members were randomly selected before asking to join. Members previously identified as English-speaking and living with a child were randomly invited to participate over email and could complete the survey on a computer or mobile device. Of the adults invited, 49% (7,803 of 16,005) agreed to participate, and 89% of participants (6,866) qualified for the survey based on answering yes to the following item: “Are you a parent or caretaker of any children who are between the ages of 3 and 19 who live with you at least part of the time?” In all, 95% completed the entire survey and 2% completed most of the items and were retained.
Out of 6,643 parents living with children in this age range, 2,895 lived with a child aged 13 to 19. For those with multiple children in the household, this had to be the child with the next birthday. Of those qualifying, 69% (2,001) agreed to have the child take the next portion of the survey, and 99% of children assented to the survey after their parent consented (1,580 out of 1,588). The effective response rate (completed surveys per invitation) for children was 79% and 42% for parents. Each respondent, including the adolescents, was offered a $5 incentive — deposited electronically — for completing the survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

The survey was fielded June 26 to July 17, 2023, using the Gallup Panel, a probability-based panel whose members were randomly selected before asking to join. Members previously identified as English-speaking and living with a child were randomly invited to participate over email and could complete the survey on a computer or mobile device. Of the adults invited, 49% (7,803 of 16,005) agreed to participate, and 89% of participants (6,866) qualified for the survey based on answering yes to the following item: “Are you a parent or caretaker of any children who are between the ages of 3 and 19 who live with you at least part of the time?” In all, 95% completed the entire survey and 2% completed most of the items and were retained.
Out of 6,643 parents living with children in this age range, 2,895 lived with a child aged 13 to 19. For those with multiple children in the household, this had to be the child with the next birthday. Of those qualifying, 69% (2,001) agreed to have the child take the next portion of the survey, and 99% of children assented to the survey after their parent consented (1,580 out of 1,588). The effective response rate (completed surveys per invitation) for children was 79% and 42% for parents. Each respondent, including the adolescents, was offered a $5 incentive — deposited electronically — for completing the survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

The survey was fielded June 26 to July 17, 2023, using the Gallup Panel, a probability-based panel whose members were randomly selected before asking to join. Members previously identified as English-speaking and living with a child were randomly invited to participate over email and could complete the survey on a computer or mobile device. Of the adults invited, 49% (7,803 of 16,005) agreed to participate, and 89% of participants (6,866) qualified for the survey based on answering yes to the following item: “Are you a parent or caretaker of any children who are between the ages of 3 and 19 who live with you at least part of the time?” In all, 95% completed the entire survey and 2% completed most of the items and were retained.
Out of 6,643 parents living with children in this age range, 2,895 lived with a child aged 13 to 19. For those with multiple children in the household, this had to be the child with the next birthday. Of those qualifying, 69% (2,001) agreed to have the child take the next portion of the survey, and 99% of children assented to the survey after their parent consented (1,580 out of 1,588). The effective response rate (completed surveys per invitation) for children was 79% and 42% for parents. Each respondent, including the adolescents, was offered a $5 incentive — deposited electronically — for completing the survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Out of 6,643 parents living with children in this age range, 2,895 lived with a child aged 13 to 19. For those with multiple children in the household, this had to be the child with the next birthday. Of those qualifying, 69% (2,001) agreed to have the child take the next portion of the survey, and 99% of children assented to the survey after their parent consented (1,580 out of 1,588). The effective response rate (completed surveys per invitation) for children was 79% and 42% for parents. Each respondent, including the adolescents, was offered a $5 incentive — deposited electronically — for completing the survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Out of 6,643 parents living with children in this age range, 2,895 lived with a child aged 13 to 19. For those with multiple children in the household, this had to be the child with the next birthday. Of those qualifying, 69% (2,001) agreed to have the child take the next portion of the survey, and 99% of children assented to the survey after their parent consented (1,580 out of 1,588). The effective response rate (completed surveys per invitation) for children was 79% and 42% for parents. Each respondent, including the adolescents, was offered a $5 incentive — deposited electronically — for completing the survey.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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